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How to Balance Between Collaborative and Solo Work

Collaboration is at the heart of a user centred design approach, with clients, users and amongst your colleagues. But too much collaboration can often get in the way.

2 min read Portrait Misa by  Miša Kaspar

How to Balance Between Collaborative and Solo Work.jpg

How can you merge collaborative ways of working with ways of working alone for best results? Here’s some guidance to help create that space for thinking alone.

At meetings and workshops

  1. Prepare and share an agenda before meetings
    Receiving an agenda in advance allows those participating to prepare in their own time. The ability to digest in their own time will bring clarity on the objectives of the meeting and what is expected from everyone. It will also invite questions, which will help ensure everyone is on the same page before the meeting starts, saving precious time. Make sure you reference the agenda at the start of the meeting to refresh their memories.
  2. Solitary moments during activities
    Not all tasks should be immediately collaborative. Give participants first some time alone to start tackling a task. This could be an affinity diagram, card sorting or sketching. Get participants to present to a smaller group, refine their outputs, then present and compare with other teams.This allows people who need more time to get started the chance to prepare. It will also stop the louder voices biasing everyone’s thinking.
  3. Allow time to absorb
    Workshops are tiring. But having a heavy debrief at the end of a full-on day can be draining. Recharge those batteries and allow yourself and your team to reflect on the meeting. Regroup after you’ve had a break or the following morning while it’s still fresh. If an immediate regroup is not necessary, make sure you at least follow-up with a group email to allow the conversation to continue until the next time you meet.

At the office

  1. Guard your project time
    Standups and meetings are often essential but don’t let them get in the way of the actual work. Give a clear vision so that everyone is well prepared for a standup. For example tell the group that they should spending 5 minutes to think this up beforehand, means your bit is short, concise and useful.
  2. Take ownership of problems
    Identify when a problem is taking too long to resolve as a group. Take ownership or pass it to someone to tackle by themselves before they bring it back to the group. Equally avoid the “design by committee” mantra. Ask your colleague or client if you can think about it and get back to them with ideas.
  3. Encourage solo time
    Build in solo time during analysis for example. Immersing yourself in lots of data is very often a solo task. Coming back together to discuss this data will fuel debates around how these insights are interpreted. This will also prepare you for the more difficult questions from your client.
  4. A collaborative / solo work balance
    Effective collaboration must strike a balance with focussed work time. Be mindful of combining both methods throughout a project, rather than bursts of one or the other. Both ways of working are not in conflict with each other, but complementary in achieving best results.

How do you handle this balance? I’d really like to hear your thoughts.

About the author

This is Miša

Information is not knowledge.

Portrait Misa